Party Pasta

This recipe came to life after our housewarming party (all the way back in March… that’s how far behind I am in posting recent recipes).

For as much as I love to be in the kitchen, I am a lazy host. I almost never throw an elaborate dinner party. I prefer to host brunches, BBQs, or get togethers with nothing but finger food.

Things that are on the simpler side are my jam; like toasting bagels and throwing some berries in a bowl for a simple brunch, or grilling chicken and zucchini pairing with a crusty baguette and a good olive oil for dinner.

For our housewarming party, we went the heavy appetizer route and Trader Joe’s was our third host. I bought salsa, guac, hummus, and veggies; we did a simple cheese and salami plate; some focaccia and balsamic + olive oil; baked some taquitos and called it a day. (Aside from the homemade meatballs and tortillas chips that my arguably better-at-hosting husband made.)

After everyone came and ate, drank, and toured the house, we had a few leftovers. Namely a jar of corn salsa that I had never bought before… what to do, what to do with you? I thought as I crammed it into the fridge with our other leftovers.

Later that week I was eyeing a bag of spinach we had and thought, maybe… maybe some leafy greens, corn salsa, and black bean pasta will go well together?

And oh how well they do go together! The combo was such a hit I’ve picked up a few jars of that TJs corn salsa since and have made many more dinners of Party Pasta. This recipe is gluten free and can be vegan if you omit the parmesan cheese. It is the real MVP in our house and so simple that is just might make it into the lazy-host rotation for our next shabang.


Party Pasta

Prep time: 2 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of black bean pasta
  • 1 jar of Trader Joe’s corn salsa
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach or 1/2 bag frozen
  • optional: parmesan cheese as garnish

Directions:

  • Cook black bean pasta according to the package and then drain cooking water
  • Add pasta back into the pot with spinach (the heat will wilt the spinach if fresh or defrost it if frozen) and corn salsa (we really like the flavor of the salsa so I am generous with the amount I use)
  • Dish and garnish with parm and freshly cracked black pepper

Vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce

YOU GUYS. This recipe is a winner. With one of my closet friends as my inspo (read about her wedding we just went to here), I whipped up this vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce to serve over spaghetti squash tonight and it’s so creamy, you wouldn’t even know there isn’t cheese in it.

IMG_0621 (1)

I’ll admit, there’s a bit of prep work (more than I usually do on a Monday) with roasting the bell peppers. And I made my own cashew milk, which obviously added time. You can prep the cashew milk the night before to save a few minutes but I do highly recommend making your own nut milk for this one; since it’s a savory dish.

I know you can buy unsweetened nut milk but it just always has a hint of sweet in my opinion. Besides, if you can avoid added ingredients, why not? Making your own nut milk is actually super simple. The only pitfall is it doesn’t keep for too long (no preservatives!) but I’ll give you the exact amounts I used for this recipe below.

That means, this post is actually two recipes in one! Your lucky day, friends.

As mentioned, I put this sauce over spaghetti squash (that I did prep the day before) but you can dip bread and veggies in it or use it as a sub for a more creamy pizza sauce.


Vegan roasted red bell pepper sauce

Prep time:  45 minutes – Cook time: 5 minutes – Servings: 2 – 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 chopped shallots
  • 2 – 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 – 2 Tbs of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup cashew milk*
  • 2 Tbs of nutritional yeast
  • A few dashes of red chili flakes (optional)
  • Basil for garnish

Directions:

  • Roast bell peppers in a 450 degree toaster oven for 30 minutes or until skin is charred
  • Tent bell peppers in tin foil to steam for 10 minutes and then remove skin and seeds
  • Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil
  • Add peppers, sautéd shallots and garlic, cashew milk, nutritional yeast, and red chili flakes to blender and blend until smooth
  • Garnish and serve 🙂

 

IMG_0617
Roast

img_0618.jpg
Peel

IMG_0619
Blend

IMG_0620
Pour

*For the cashew milk:

  • Simply soak 1/2 cup unsalted cashews in water for ~8 hours (I soaked mine while I was at work today)
  • Drain cashews and add to blender with 1/2 cup of water
  • Blend and strain in a nut milk bag

IMG_0616

Californians and their avocados…

It’s been gloomy in California lately and I decided to spend the afternoon at home “pampering” myself the other day. I think it’s important to realize you don’t have to spend a whole bunch of money to feel better about yourself. No matter how great I feel with fresh highlights and a new outfit, it would be a pricey habit to rely on spending all of that money to brighten my day.

Sometimes just spending a hour or so on yourself is good enough! I was feeling like a hot mess – with un-brushed hair and chipped nail polish – when I decided to go for a run/walk. (Side note: I don’t like running so “letting” myself walk for half of my workbook is a nice compromise. It also keeps me from dreading my workout which means I’m more likely to do it!).

Right when I laced up my shoes, it started raining. I could have done another workout instead but I decided just to go for it. Oddly, running in the rain makes it more pleasant for me.

  • After my workout, I had one of my favorite protein packed snacks – snap peas dipped in hummus with hot sauce and a string cheese.
  • Then I took off that chipped nail polish! Typically I think doing our nails is a way of pampering but, because of all the chemicals in nail polish, I feel better when my nails are bare. Scrubbing off my O.P.I. and cutting/filing my nails makes me feel best.
  • Next I took a hot shower and SHAVED even though it’s raining here and I won’t be wearing shorts anytime soon. Nothing gets you feeling like you brought your A game like smooth legs.
  • After I showered, I slathered myself with avocado oil – how California of me, I know.
  • I got dressed and, for once, avoided yoga pants or leggings, opting for jeans. (Full disclaimer: this was more for Mike than me;)
  • Next I dyed my  eyebrows. Some people feel best when they’re having a good hair day, for others it’s all about their outfit, but for me? when my eyebrows are – excuse my pop culture reference – #onfleek I feel best.
  • While my eyebrow dye sat and dyed, I brushed my hair (it is all too often that my hair defaults in a messy bun on top of my head) and fish tail braided it to get it out of my face. Braiding my hair is one of my favorite things to do – it’s so simple and really gives you bang for your buck because after you take it out, you’re left  with pretty waves. Two hairstyles out of one? Sold.

 

IMG_20160321_170803
Hair braided. Eyebrows dyed. …Chillin’ with no makeup on

 

After I felt like a human again, I hit the kitchen to try out a new recipe. I originally saw this recipe on the YouTube channel What’s Up Moms (which I am obsessed with, even though I’m not a mom yet!). In it, sliced almonds and spinach were used but I only had baby kale and didn’t feel like adding another fat to the sauce.


Creamy Avocado Pasta

Prep time: 15 minutes – Cook time: 15 minutes – Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1.5 c of your favorite pasta (I used brown rice and quinoa)
  • 1 bag baby kale
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c basil
  • 1/2 c cherry tomatoes

Directions 

  • Cook pasta according to package
  • While pasta is cooking, add kale, pealed avocado, olive oil, garlic and basil into blender and blend until smooth
  • Strain pasta but keep some of the water to thin out sauce (if need be)
  • Pour sauce (thinned out with pasta water, if needed) over hot pasta
  • Add sliced cherry tomatoes and mix together
  • Serve and enjoy!

IMG_20160321_182733
So green!

IMG_20160321_183345
So creamy!

IMG_20160321_183916
So good!

#VegOut